Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at a COVID-19 press conference in September 2020. (B.C. government)

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at a COVID-19 press conference in September 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C shatters single-day COVID-19 record with 274 new cases; most linked to gatherings

No deaths reported in past 24 hours

B.C. reported 274 new COVID-19 cases Thursday (Oct. 22), shattering the single-day record set just Wednesday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there have been no new deaths in the past 24 hours. One of the new cases is epi-linked, Henry said.

There have now been a total of 12,331 cases since the pandemic began, of which 1,920 are currently active. There are 71 people in hospital, 24 of whom are in ICU. Nearly 4,500 people are currently under public health monitoring.

Henry said there have been 10,398 tests completed in the past 24 hours and the positivity rate is at 2.6 per cent. There are 19 outbreaks in health-care settings, with 17 in long-term care and two in acute care centres.

The provincial health officer said that while a recent school outbreak, B.C.’s first, could cause people to worry, it’s the social gatherings that have led to the majority of these new cases. Henry said 203 of the new cases are tied to Fraser Health, particularly to gatherings like weddings, funerals and other life events. While Thanksgiving weekend did contribute to some new cases in recent days, Henry said it was not the main driver of new infections.

“We’re not seeing return to school lead to amplification in our communities,” she said.

Henry stopped short of bringing in new public health orders related to gatherings but warned that options were on the table for further restrictions. B.C. has had a limit of 50 people, spaced out, at any gathering since the spring and Henry has resisted calls to change it.. However, she said that people planning events in the coming days and weeks should consider hosting smaller gatherings instead, and not take advantage of the 50 person limit.

“Weddings, funerals and other life events need to be small, as small as possible,” Henry said, noting the gatherings should be limited to one household only, and at max a pandemic bubble of six or fewer.

“The risk is too high for all of us.”

She said that cases from social gatherings were “spilling over” and infecting people not connected to the event.

“Social gatherings, especially recently weddings and other celebrations, are proving to be high risk for all of us,” Henry said.

“These events have caused clusters and outbreaks that have now spilled over to our health-care system.”

Hosts of events like weddings and funerals, she added, are not sticking to COVID-19 safety plans, or having guests who break the rules.

“We may have the best intentions… but it is hard, and now it is not working for many reasons,” Henry said.

“As much as I am hesitant to do so.. if there is a major source of transmission, additional measures can and will be put in place if they’re needed.”

Potential measures could include conditions tied to wedding licences and smaller limits on indoor gatherings.

While most event-linked cases stem from the Lower Mainland, Henry said that some of those people travel back to their home communities, bringing the virus with them.

The provincial health officer also said that some new cases are tied to workplaces, noting that WorkSafe BC would be conducting inspections at a higher rate. She said that recent concerns include employees car pooling together and gathering in break rooms, although some workplace set ups are also a concern.

READ MORE: Majority of new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours linked to Fraser Health region


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